Monday, October 19, 2015

31 Days, Day 19: Honor.

At the funeral home, someone murmured that she couldn't tell whose children were whose because they all looked so much alike, scrambling around on the floor after Matchbox cars and tin tea cups as the adults wiped their eyes and hugged one another. "Those Cecil genes are strong," I heard, more than once, as old family friends and acquaintances surveyed the second and third and fourth generation and tried to sort us out.

One man. Four children. Fourteen grandchildren. Thirteen great-grandchildren, with two more on the way and at least one in heaven already, waiting to greet him. I guess she'll have all his attention until the rest of us get there. Will he teach her to roller skate, the way he did me? Do people roller skate in heaven? The thought makes my mouth smile and my chest ache at the same time.

His life was a simple one, and he worried that it hadn't mattered much, always saying that my grandmother was the one we really loved. Surrounded by my uncles and cousins and sisters and nephews and nieces, though, I saw his mark everywhere. My cousins and I talked memories: bike rides, trips in his '65 Mustang convertible for ice cream, fishing trips and camping trips and lessons in carpentry. He taught us to clean fish, to whittle and whistle. He rode us on the handlebars of his bicycle. He always had a pocketful of chewing gum for us, slightly warm from being carried next to his body.

He might not have done big, important things with his life that would be noticed by most adults, but to his grandchildren, he was Number One Gramp, present in all the most important ways. When six of my cousins stepped forward to carry his casket as pallbearers, his legacy was unmistakable.

We honor him, each of us, just by being here to walk the earth after he is gone, just by carrying those Cecil genes forward into the future, just by being his family.

Rest in peace, John David Josiah Cecil. We'll always remember and miss you.